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Italian-born photographer, model, actor and political activist Tina Modotti is the subject of the first installment of La Fabrica’s Essentials, a new series of monographs dedicated to the most fundamental names in photography. Modotti’s highly influential career in photography took place entirely during her years living in Mexico, from 1923 to 1930, during which time she was deeply entrenched in Mexico City’s avant-garde scene and produced a total of just over 400 black-and-white photographs. Before developing her own practice, Modotti was Edward Weston’s favorite model, then lover, darkroom assistant and ultimately, creative partner. She was also close with iconic artists such as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, for whom she photographed many public murals. Her oeuvre, spanning portraiture to photojournalism, fuses the aesthetics of Mexican revolutionary culture and avant-garde photography aesthetics, to which she added the ideals of equality proposed by socialism and her keen political commitment.
Tina Modotti (1896–1942) was born in Udine, Italy and immigrated with her family at the age of 16 to California, where she worked as an artists’ model and an actress. In 1922 she moved to Mexico City where she became heavily involved with the communist party, working for the newspaper El Machete, and later founding the Liga Antifascista de México. In 1930 she was exiled and lived as a political refugee throughout Europe and in Moscow before returning to Mexico under a pseudonym in 1939, where she remained until her early death in 1942.